Monday, November 28, 2022

Legacy bowls tournament comes to an end after 55 years

Recent stories

Joan de Bondt, The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper

When the Legacy Bowls Tournament was initiated in Barham 55 years ago in 1967, it attracted four greens of bowlers, drawn from surrounding areas as far away as Bendigo. The event was established as a fundraiser to assist war widows and their families.

The Cup
The coveted Clan Cup.
Photo supplied.

Barham Legatees Jack Keck, Harry Whitman, Frank Sheldrick and Keith Disher were the original organisers of the one-day event. Legatees are dedicated men and women who work directly with Legacy families to provide support and friendship to ensure that Legacy’s promise to care for the families of deceased or seriously injured veterans is kept.

Bus driver, Bobby Lake, would shuffle the morning players from the golf club to Barham, and players from the Barham Bowling Club out to the Golf Club.

Tents were erected to cater for the bowlers – men only in those days – serving freshly killed lamb, salads and liquid refreshments. The day rolled on into the evening, and earned the title ‘Legless Day’ for obvious reasons.

Winners Vickie Burmeister, Richard Burmeister, Ross Burmeister and Fay Burmeister. Photo supplied.

Things changed over time, and a ladies committee began to cater for what remained a hugely popular tournament.

‘Digger’ Hall and Albert Lyons organised the event for many years. There was a fiercely contested ‘clan trophy’, which saw families compete against other families. As time went on, there were not enough members of individual families registering, so the event died out.

Upon the death of Digger Hall and Albert Lyons some 11 years ago, Heather Lodge and Wendy Cook took on the role of keeping the tournament alive. Apart from honouring the hard work and dedication of the previous organisers, they are both passionate about Legacy.

Runners up
Runners-up Kate Peace, Rhonda Ballard, Kerry Ballard and Marj Mooney. Photo supplied.

Heather’s family was offered substantial support by the organisation after the death of her father, a Soldier’s Settler, at Tullakool in 1949. He had died suddenly at 32 years old, leaving his heavily pregnant wife and six young children.

Wendy’s mother and father were both in the army. Wendy used to go on bus trips with the 8th Battalion to help look after the soldiers and wives.

Heather explained that there is a good month’s work involved in preparing for the tournament, including catering, recruiting players and working out teams. Whilst the Legatees are sorry to see the event come to an end, there are not enough players now to carry it on and it has inevitably run its course. Yesterday’s final tournament saw 104 players compete, with Vickie Burmeister, Richard Burmeister, Ross Burmeister and Fay Burmeister taking the top honours, with Kate Peace, Rhonda Ballard, Kerry Ballard and Marj Mooney runners-up.

Heather and Wendy wish to thank the local businesses and the golf club for their support over the years, and cluBarham for donating the prize money each year. They give a special thank you to Joan Williams who is in her 90s and still providing invaluable assistance, and to everybody else who has contributed in some way.

Sadly, another tradition draws to a close.

The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper 24 March 2022

This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 24 March 2022.



Sign up to the Australian Rural & Regional News weekly newsletter

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

For all the news from The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, go to